Reading 71/341, Judges 10-13


After Abimelech, there arose to save Israel, Tola, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years, and died and was buried in Shamir. After him arose Jair, the Gileadite, and he judged Israel twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkey colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. Jair died, and was buried in Kamon. The children of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals, and the Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Sidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines, and they forsook the Lord, and did not serve him. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the Ammonites. They crushed and oppressed the children of Israel that year. For eighteen years, they oppressed all the children of Israel that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. The Ammonites passed over the Jordan to fight against Judah too, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was sore distressed. The children of Israel cried to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God, and have served the Baals.” The Lord said to the children of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites, and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you, and you cried to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me, and served other gods, therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen, let them save you in the time of your distress.” The children of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to you, only deliver us, we pray you, this day.” They put away the foreign gods from among them, and served the Lord, and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

Then the Ammonites were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. The children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpah. The people, the princes of Gilead, said one to another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead became the father of Jephthah. Gilead's wife bore him sons, and when his wife's sons grew up, they drove out Jephthah, and said to him, “You shall not inherit in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers, and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows gathered around Jephthah, and they went out with him. It happened after a while, that the Ammonites made war against Israel. It was so, that when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah out of the land of Tob, and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief, that we may fight with the Ammonites.” Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did not you hate me, and drive me out of my father's house? Why are you come to me now when you are in distress?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we turned again to you now, that you may go with us, and fight with the Ammonites, and you shall be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord shall be witness between us, surely according to your word, so will we do.” Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them, and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.

Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, “What have you to do with me, that you are come to me to fight against my land?” The king of the Ammonites answered to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land, when he came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore restore it peaceably.” Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the Ammonites, and he said to him, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the Ammonites, but when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the desert to the Red Sea, and came to Kadesh, then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land, but the king of Edom did not listen. In the same way, he sent to the king of Moab, but he would not let them, and Israel dwelt in Kadesh. Then they went through the desert, and went around the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and they encamped on the other side of the Arnon, but they did not come within the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Let us pass, we pray you, through your land to my place. But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his border, so Sihon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. The Lord, the God of Israel, delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them, so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. They possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and from the desert to the Jordan. So now then, the Lord, the God of Israel, has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and should you possess them? Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whoever the Lord our God has dispossessed from before us, them will we possess. Now are you anything better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them? While Israel lived in Heshbon and its towns, and in Aroer and its towns, and in all the cities that are along by the side of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did not you recover them within that time? I therefore have not sinned against you, but you do me wrong to war against me. The Lord, the Judge, be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.”

However, the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words which Jephthah sent him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over to the Ammonites. Jephthah vowed a vow to the Lord, and said, “If you will indeed deliver the Ammonites into my hand, then it shall be, that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” So Jephthah passed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hand. He struck them from Aroer until near Minnith, twenty cities, and to Abelcheramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the children of Israel. Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances, and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. It happened, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me, for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot go back.” She said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to the Lord. Do to me according to what has proceeded out of your mouth, because the Lord has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.” She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone for two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.” He said, “Go.” He sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains. It happened at the end of two months that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed, and she was a virgin. It was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in a year.

The men of Ephraim were gathered together, and passed northward, and they said to Jephthah, “Why did you pass over to fight against the Ammonites, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me out of their hand. When I saw that you did not save me, I put my life in my hand, and passed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?” Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim, and the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim, and in the midst of Manasseh.” The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. It happened that when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over”, the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No”; then said they to him, “Say ‘Shibboleth’ then”, and he said ‘Sibboleth’, for he could not manage to pronounce it correctly, then they laid hold of him, and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim. Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead. After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he married abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died, and was buried at Bethlehem. After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. Elon the Zebulunite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. After him Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite, judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty sons' sons, who rode on seventy donkey colts, and he judged Israel eight years. Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite, died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

The children of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah, and his wife was barren, and did not bear. The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, and said to her, “See now, you are barren, and do not bear, but you shall conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore please beware and drink no wine nor strong drink, and do not eat any unclean thing, for, behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son. No razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Then the woman went and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me, and his face was like the face of the angel of God, very awesome, and I did not ask him whence he was, nor did he tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son, and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat no unclean thing, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Then Manoah entreated the Lord, and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us, and teach us what we shall do to the child who shall be born.” God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field, but Manoah, her husband, was not with her. The woman made haste, and ran, and told her husband, and said to him, “Behold, the man has appeared to me, he who came to me the other day.”

Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” He said, “I am.” Manoah said, “Now, when your words happen, what shall be the way of life of the child, and how shall we provide for him?” The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that comes of the vine, nor let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.” Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “I pray you, let us detain you, that we may make ready a kid goat for you.” The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat of your bread, but if you will make ready a burnt offering, you may offer it to the Lord.” For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord. Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, that when your words happen, we may honor you?” The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask after my name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, and the angel did something wondrous as Manoah and his wife looked on. For it happened, when the flame went up toward the sky from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar, and Manoah and his wife looked on, and they fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of the Lord no longer appeared to Manoah or to his wife. Then Manoah knew that it was the angel of the Lord. Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hand, nor would he have shown us all these things, nor would he at this time have told us such things as these.” The woman bore a son, and named him Samson, and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. The Spirit of the Lord began to move him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

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